Atul Aneja

First bilateral meeting today in 27 years

DUBAI: Iran has expressed scepticism about its talks with the United States which begin on Monday in Baghdad.

This would be the first bilateral meeting between the two sides in 27 years.

At a press briefing on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini cited a many recent developments which were casting their shadow on the dialogue.

The detention of the five Iranian nationals by the Americans from an Iranian diplomatic facility in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil three months ago has continued to sour the relationship. Mr. Hosseni pointed out that a firm date of the proposed meeting between the detenus and their families has still not been fixed.

The families are now seeking a meeting with the Swiss Ambassador to clarify the situation. In the absence of diplomatic ties with Washington, the Swiss embassy hosts a U.S. interests section in its premises.

The spokesman also referred to the American naval build up in the Gulf, not far from Iranian shores. He pointed out that the U.S. was concentrating its forces to revive the morale of its troops.

Besides, the Iranians have also been unhappy about the situation in Lebanon where the Americans have been airlifting weapons for the government forces. Iran is close to the Shia militant group, Hizbollah, which has been calling upon the Government for political reforms through street protests.